Location Tracking: Convenience or Corporate Surveillance

As a general rule, I always prefer to restrict apps from as many permissions as possible. For many apps, this may result in limited functionality. I’ve posted about this before here.

I always have my location tracking turned off except for when I’m in a new place and I need to know my location to get accurate directions. Or sometimes I turn on location when I’m driving solo and need directions narrated to me.

I was always wary of sharing my location data, even before I started reading about the dangers of this data and how big a commodity it is. First of all, leaving location tracking on depleted my battery faster. But most of all, I didn’t like the idea of being tracked as I went about my daily business, even if I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Turns out my instincts and paranoia were justified. Some months ago I read a rather chilling article in the New York Times about the how easy it is to identify people from their location tracking. Many of you reading this may be thinking, “What’s the big deal. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’ve got nothing to hide.” This is not true. You may have nothing to hide, but as I’ve written before, you do have something to protect, your privacy and your habits. You may have also been seduced into thinking that the conveniences you get from giving up your location is worth the tradeoff. It’s not.

Some location tracking apps (e.g., browsers, weather, fitness, etc.) record locations every few seconds, all under the guise of providing you better, customized services. This data is then sold to 3rd-party companies who analyze it to learn more about your habits and who you are. Maybe this doesn’t seem offensive if a company is tracking you or it’s something that seems harmless like a weather app.

Now imagine it was a person tracking you instead. You would likely be freaked out by this stalker-type behavior. You wouldn’t know what he was going to do with this information causing you a considerable amount of distress. Aside from the fact it’s just creepy when someone knows where you are every second of the day without your consent (obvious exceptions for knowing where your children are).

Feeling concerned? Stay tuned for next week’s posting and learn how to disarm these location tracking services.

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